The Covid-19 crisis, as well as the long lockdown and isolation measures which were enforced in many countries around the globe, have highlighted just how important communication and networking is for people. In times of uncertainty and increased stress, many of us would have felt the need to get in touch with our support network, people we love and trust, as a coping mechanism.
Furthermore, lockdown revitalised the long lost sense of community. People all over the world have come together in small or larger groups to support the most vulnerable, either through organised activism groups and NGOs, or individually within their immediate community. The UK has been no exception; one million volunteers have stepped in to support the NHS and those in need in almost every neighbourhood. The sense of community, solidarity and personal responsibility has been overwhelming.
According to Aristotle, human beings are by nature social animals. As human beings, we have this fundamental esoteric need to be in the company of others, include them in our lives, and share meaningful experiences with them.
Our communities have been formed and evolved to accommodate this need, while societies are meant to precede the individual. Of course, the world has evolved a lot since Aristotle’s time, but people’s need for social interaction remains imperative. In fact, many successful applications and platforms owe their rapid growth and ongoing success to this principle and to people’s need to be connected; including media platforms, online communities, dating sites, and social networking apps.
The current pandemic fuelled people’s need to keep informed and updated, both through News Media and via Social Networking platforms. The Media/Publishing sector has witnessed remarkable growth in both sales / subscriptions, and media consumption per se. Bloomberg Media, for example, reported record subscriber numbers lately, while the average daily subscriber count was three times as high as usual.
The Guardian.com reportedly had the most top ten rankings on Google for searches pertaining to Coronavirus, more than health organisations like the WHO or NHS. The Financial Times has shown high levels of consumption and engagement online, while traffic to its website grew 250% year-on-year.
Furthermore, according to a recent study by Havas Media, the consumption of news brands in the UK continually grows, and 76% of responders say that information has become more valuable to them since the coronavirus outbreak. The study also reveals a need for greater connection, with 48% saying it has become more important to them during the outbreak.
As people have no doubt been worrying and grappling with what’s happening, Social Media platforms have also played a significant role in spreading and sharing Covid-related news. On one hand, social media have been used by citizens across the globe as a way to voice their concerns and criticise the way governments have dealt with the crisis. Consumers also used the platforms to post, distribute and share personal information and local news, or confirm the wellbeing of friends and family members.
On the other hand, social networking providers have been using email campaigns excessively for their customer communications. According to data from SparkPost’s Competitive Tracker platform, “Covid” or “Coronavirus” themed subject lines fronting emails have had a remarkable increase in communications run by Social Networking companies. In March 2020 only, the number of qualifying campaigns was 12,577, which is more than six times as high as the 2,080 campaigns in February 2020.
As humans, we are born wired for developing and maintaining connections with others. In the Information Age, many of these connections are being formed or cultivated online; either between a platform and its users, or amongst users of the platform, or both. Since the lockdown, Media and Publishing enterprises, as well as Social Networking companies, have been on the forefront of communications and strengthen their influence. By engaging responsible practices, they can now enhance their brands and maintain their customers’ loyalty.
By Sam Holding, head of international, SparkPost